WRITINGS - Lana Čmajčanin - visual artist

Bosnian Girl by Marc Lenot, 2014

Last year I painted the portrait (in English) of Pierre Courtin, of the Gallery Duplex 100m2, art smuggler in Sarajevo. His partnership with Agnès b. (Galerie du jour) enables him to present in Paris (until 26 July) a panorama very (too?) large of 20 Bosnian artists under the title "Memory Lane". This is about history, naturally, this is a country where past history is still present, from 1914 to Dayton, and it is a path that connects people, houses, communities. In the blink of an eye we go here from tragedy to irony, and irony is often tragic: the image above of this beautiful Bosnian (photo from Tarik Samarah, known for his work on Šrebenica) represents the artist Šejla Kamerić, is adorned with a graffiti found in the barracks of the UN Dutch soldiers who let the Šrebenica massacre happen, exactly 19 years ago. And you can leave with a poster, that you can hang in your living room if you are able of the same resilience and even tragic humor than the Bosnians. This photo was posted on the walls of several cities, it seems to me rather emblematic of Bosnia. Kamerić also shows here a long red carpet made of old clothes, allegory perhaps of the weaver woman and of the blood of the victims.   

Irony too, the vain attempt by Gordana Andelic-Mantra to carry in her arms the 22 flags of the countries that occupied Bosnia and Herzegovina in history. Walking on a road to the sound of the national anthem, she gradually takes on more, stumbles, loses some flags and finally gives up before she can pick up the flag of the current country. In a very simple and allegorical way, the weight of the past imposes itself, and the difficulty of moving forward. 

Tragic irony again, the presentation by Alma Suljevic of anti-personnel mines in crystal jewellery boxes, as a mortal ready-made, a displacement of war in the cosy and luxurious gallery space; further Minka (mine) is also a female name, reinforcing this unreal dimension, creating a strange ambiguity between love and death. Still ironic, the attack of a piano by plastic soldiers from Jusuf Hadžifejzović (also creator of the fantastic Charlama Depot). 

We also find here several artists that I mentioned before: Ibro Hasanović's videos "A short story" and "Spectre"; the damaged, broken, stained portraits of Tito by Milomir Kovačević; the repetitive painting of striking photographs of the war by Radenko Milak who copies them several times until exhaustion, exhaustion of the painting, exhaustion of History (here from a photograph by Ron Haviv showing a Serb militiaman beating up a Bosnian woman on the ground); Maja Bajevic's video "How do you wish to be governed?"; and the very absorbing work, intimate, personal and in mourning, of Adela Jušic on "My father the sniper". 

I will conclude with the work, more abstract, but always with the same humorous distance, of Lana Cmajcanin, who invites the visitor to cut and sew the map of Bosnia and Herzegovina, with its republics, its cantons, its regions, its municipalities, all its administrative nonsense, which was probably the only way at Dayton, but that today weighs on the country and that will need to be reinvented. But how? Let's start with some scissors, a needle and a thread. This is perhaps the message of hope form this exhibition...

Online article about exhibition Memory Lane, Galerie du Jour, Agnes B, Paris, June 2014,